As Walt Disney World gears up to reopen in the coming weeks, there could be a major presence on the resort by the end of summer. Saturday afternoon, the National Basketball Association (NBA) revealed it is in preliminary talks with the amusement park to host the remainder of its season on-site. Should the two parties strike a deal, the NBA would finish its season using the ESPN facilities based in Disney World. The entire league would be based in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, including league games, all practices, and player housing.
The NBA announced the news through a statement on its Twitter account on Saturday. "The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing," the statement reads. "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."
At this point in time, Disney has yet to submit an official plan for reopening the entire park to the Florida government, though Florida governor Ron DeSantis says that could come as soon as next week. “Disney has given an indication that next week, they will submit their plans, and once they do, then we will schedule that for a full briefing before our Economic Recovery Task Force as well,” he explained. “So at this point, it’s an undefined time or date, but we do look forward to seeing that sometime next week.”
Disney World closed its door on March 15th and has remained shuttered since then. The initial closure announcement is below.
"In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we proceed with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month. Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14, through the end of the month. The Walt Disney Company will pay its cast members during that closure period. The hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice.”
“The retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, will remain open. Domestic Walt Disney Company employees who are able to work from home are being asked to do so, including those at The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Direct-to-Consumer, and Parks, Experiences, and Products. We will continue to stay in close contact with appropriate officials and health experts."
Cover photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images